Chien-Chi Chang is a photographer and member of Magnum Photos. Chang was born in Taichung, Taiwan. He received an MS from Indiana University, Bloomington and a B. A. from Soochow University, Taipei. He joined Magnum Photos in 1995 and was elected as a full member in 2001. He lives in Taichung, Taiwan and Graz, Austria.
Chang focuses on the abstract concepts of alienation and connection. The Chain
, a collection of portraits made in a mental asylum in Taiwan, was shown at Venice Biennale (2001) and the São Paulo Art Biennial (2002). The nearly life-sized photographs of pairs of patients chained together resonate with Chang's look at the less visible bonds of marriage. At São Paulo Art Biennial he was involved in the Thomann controversy.
Chang has treated marital ties in two books: I do I do I do
(2001), a collection of images depicting alienated grooms and brides in Taiwan, and in Double Happiness
(2005), a depiction of the business of selling brides in Vietnam. The ties of family and of culture are also the themes of a project begun in 1992. For 21 years, Chang has photographed and videoed the bifurcated lives of Chinese immigrants in New York's Chinatown, along with those of their wives and families back home in Fujian. Still a work in progress, China Town
was hung at the National Museum of Singapore in 2008 as part of a mid-career survey and at Venice Biennale (2011) as well as at International Center of Photography
, New York (2012). Chang's investigation of the ties that bind one person to another draws on his own divided immigrant experience in the United States.
Chien-Chi Chang has always been fascinated by the human conditions of alienation and connection. Both are in evidence in his signature work, The Chain
, which is a collection of portraits made of inmates in a mental asylum in Taiwan. The subjects are people who have had their bonds to the rest of society – family, community – servered. And yet, as part of their treatment, they are chained to one another, physically linked in pairs throughout their days and only unlocked to sleep. These powerful photographs, nearly life size, have been exhibited at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2001), La Biennale di Venezia (2001), and the Bienal de Sao Paolo (2002).
Less visible bonds were the subject of another project: A jaundiced look at the ceremony surrounding the union of two people. When his parents began pressuring him to marry, Chang responded by making pictures at weddings in Taiwan. The images are hardly festive, rather emphasizing alienated grooms and lonely brides. They have been collected in the book, I do I do I do
This meditation on the nature of the ties that bind a person to others and to society is a natural outgrowth of Chang's own experience of the divided life of an immigrant. The son of working people in central Taiwan, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Soochow University in Taiwan in 1984 and a Master of Science degree at Indiana University in 1990. He then became a staff photographer at The Seattle Times (1991-1993) and The Baltimore Sun (1994-1995).
Over the past decade, he has worked in New York's Chinatown, documenting the lives of immigrants there. These pictures of illegal aliens stranded on an island within an island have appeared in National Geographic
magazine, as well as The New Yorker
, TIME Magazine
and German Geo. The series earned Chang first place in the category "Daily Life Story"
from World Press Photo
That same year, Chang won a grant from the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund
for humanistic photography and was awarded the Visa d'Or in magazine photography in Perpignan. He was named the Missouri/NPPA 1999 Magazine Photographer of the Year.
Chien-Chi Chang’s photography and films explore the abstract concepts of alienation and connection. His investigation of the ties that bind one person to another draws on his own deeply divided immigrant experience, as he explores the contrasting themes of hope and darkness, restriction and freedom.
Chang’s long term interest in the manifestation of restriction and freedom was explored in his project on North Korean defectors. From 2007 to 2009 , Chang travelled with North Korean defectors to document their incredibly harrowing journey escaping to China. Between 2008-2012, Chang worked on a project called Jet Lag
, which explored the globalised disconnect of the “jet-setting” lifestyle, culminating in a book of the same name, published in 2015.
Source: Magnum Photos